Regulating Political Advocacy by Charities Liberally

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In countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, whether certain classes of civil society groups are eligible to receive state support (by way of tax and other concessions) is primarily based on the entity’s intended purpose. Yet governments often view the advocacy, electioneering or lobbying activities that are the means adopted by some civil society organisations to achieve their purposes, as unjustified attempts to intervene in the political process. Attempts to restrict these activities are thus not uncommon, but raise challenges to fundamental tenets of liberal democracies. This article uses recent Australian experience as a case study to analyse such attempts through rule of law and freedom of expression lenses. It focuses on advocacy and electioneering via peaceful protest/civil disobedience activities and argues that charities have a valuable role to play as political actors and that any restrictions should meet the requirements of certainty and proportionality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-256
Number of pages21
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number1
Early online date12 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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